By Gaby Martinez
Unfortunately, students who may desire to pursue an education for the sole purpose of deeper learning, often cannot escape the heavy financial burden that comes with it. The hope of swift student debt recovery may appear far more dismal for students who seek mission and purpose outside of technical fields of education.
According to a 2015 study published by Georgetown University titled “Learning While Earning”, “The period of transition from youth dependency to adult independence has grown from seven to 11 years.”
The cost of living is at an all time high and the cost of pursuing a college education has increased, yet expectations for the typical college student for pre and post-graduation remain the same.
Findings in the same study concluded that in the current economy, “It is hard to be a lifelong learner if one is not a lifelong earner.”
In many cases, there are compromises to be made for first generation, working students. Financial security and academic excellence is often a trade off in many cases. In light of this, the challenges of working college students at private institutions of higher education demand to be understood, especially within the context of Southern California.
Another study from 2007 found that, “Parents of first-generation college students are less likely to help their children prepare for college entrance exams, accompany them on college tours, seek information regarding financial aid or attend information sessions.”
College culture, class structure and academic support services across the U.S. ought to be more inclusive of first-generation college students when evaluating their programs. Academic advisors and administrators at four years institutions insist that students working more than the optimal 15 hour work week hinders learning. Two dangerous assumptions are being reinforced here. One, that working is somehow divorced from learning and that a marriage between the two will have no benefit to the other. Secondly, that first generation working students must accommodate the traditional college student mold.
In reality, the average college student, especially in California, is not what we see sitcoms and Target back to school Ads. Some of us get fancy internships, while some of us get summer jobs. Some take the bus, and others chase pavement to get where they need to go. While doesn’t come as a surprise to many of us, I think it is more often ignored than understood.